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U.S. News

California: Small Pharmacy Offers Help to HIV Patients

February 8, 2011

A small pharmacy on East Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City has remained successful competing with larger area drug stores partly because of its size but primarily due to its specialization in HIV drugs and treatment.

The pharmacy, owned by the Walgreens Corp., serves approximately 1,100 active customers. About 90 percent of the clients are male, though the store is seeing more women and Hispanic customers.

According to David Irwin, manager of the Community Walgreens Pharmacy, clients appreciate the "staff and the intimate setting," as well as the free services of Patient Advocate Josie Diaz, who offers private consultations on HIV, AIDS, and available resources.

The numerous drugs and treatment options associated with HIV make it a complicated specialty in the medical field. Irwin has training in HIV from the University of Buffalo in addition to his pharmacy degree. The pharmacy's other six employees are also well versed in HIV, he said, which increases the confidence and comfort level of their clientele.

Although medicine has improved and many patients follow a more simplified regimen of one pill per day, cost can still be problematic, noted Irwin. A pharmacy bill of $25,000 a year would not be unusual, which is where Diaz comes in.

Focusing on early detection and treatment as keys to survival, Diaz conducts outreach programs, participates in health fairs, and distributes HIV/AIDS information. And, as insurance plans and assistance programs are critical for people who cannot afford drugs or who are uninsured, Diaz helps pharmacy customers to cut through paperwork and directs them to various programs that are available.

"No one is turned away," said Diaz. "If they need help (medical treatment, insurance or financial assistance) we will figure out something."

Back to other news for February 2011

Adapted from:
Desert Sun (Palm Springs)
02.04.2011; Bill Marchese

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News and Articles on HIV Groups and Medical Care in California

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